Generally, students interested in urban sociology can pursue a master's or doctoral degree program in sociology and focus their research and/or coursework in urban sociology. These degree programs are usually research-based and vary in length and requirements, depending on the degree level. Compare some of the similarities and differences between the available degrees.
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Master of Arts vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Sociology
Master of Arts in Urban Sociology
Although sociology degree programs at the master's level tend to be more general and provide students with a well-rounded overview of the field, several Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology degree programs allow students to further specialize in urban sociology through electives and research opportunities. These degree programs typically require a thesis, but some may provide a portfolio option, and may require around 30 credits of coursework. Other programs may also offer a unique applied MA program that requires an internship opportunity for practical, hands-on learning experience in addition to a thesis or portfolio and can still be completed in 2 years. Coursework for these programs may vary, but some common core courses at the master's level include topics in research methods, sociology theory, statistics and sociological history. Graduates of MA programs in sociology may go on to pursue doctorate degrees or work careers in a wide range of organizations, like community organizations, urban police departments, hospitals or social service agencies.
Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs in sociology with a specialization or research focus in urban sociology are more readily available than master's degree programs. Some of these programs may require as little as 24 credits or about 2 years beyond a master's degree, but others may take 5 to 7 years to complete. Students in these programs are typically able to earn their MA in route to their PhD and most programs require comprehensive exams and a dissertation prior to graduation, but some may have additional requirements, like a master's thesis (to earn the MA), a journal article, participation in a conference or an application to a grant or fellowship. Doctoral students are also able to select from a range of coursework to focus their studies in various areas of interest, but are likely to take similar core courses to those of a master's program in topics like social theory, research methods/design, statistics and social inequality. PhD students are especially equipped for research-based careers, but may pursue careers in teaching, public service or the government.
Common Entrance Requirements
Admission to master's and doctoral degree programs in sociology may be competitive due to the availability of funding and/or small program sizes, so students are typically encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applicants usually need at least a bachelor's degree, but those applying to a PhD program with a master's degree can usually complete the doctoral program much faster than those with a bachelor's degree. Some degree programs may require students to take the GRE, while others do not. Other common application materials include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a writing sample. Some programs may also ask for a resume or CV and programs usually like to see letters of recommendation from educators in the social sciences.
Students can earn an MA or PhD in Sociology and focus their research in various areas of urban sociology. Students usually complete a thesis or dissertation, depending on the degree level, but some programs may also offer hands-on learning opportunities through internship experiences.